Washington/New York, May 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump hit the golf links on Saturday at one of his properties as jurisdictions across the United States reopened additional public spaces for people eager to take advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend amid a pandemic that has claimed the lives of almost 97,000 Americans.
The president, an avid golfer, decided to start the weekend with an excursion to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, near Washington.
It was his first round of golf since a visit to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 8, five days before he issued a national emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Originally observed on May 31 and meant to honor the nearly 700,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who perished in the Civil War, Memorial Day has evolved into a commemoration of all those who died while serving in the US Armed Forces.
A 1968 federal law mandating that the observance be shifted to the final Monday in May regardless led eventually to the emergence of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer in the US and Americans are accustomed to gathering in backyards and parks and on beaches to celebrate.
In New York, far and away the US state hit hardest by Covid-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 84 additional fatalities on Saturday, the lowest daily death toll since March 24.
Acknowledging the “tragedy” represented by that number, he said: “The fact that it is down as low as it is, is really overall good news.”
“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100. For me, it’s just a sign of real progress,” he told a press conference in Albany, the state capital.
The Empire State, which accounts for nearly a quarter of all Covid-19 fatalities in the US, was reporting nearly 800 deaths per day during the worst of the outbreak. New York state’s 358,000 confirmed cases represent more than 20 percent of the national total of 1.65 million.
As the lion’s share of the cases and deaths have been in New York City and its environs, lightly affected areas in the northern part of the state were the first to see lockdown restrictions eased.
While some of the state’s beaches are open for swimming, activities permitted on those within the limits of New York City are limited to walking and sitting.
And beach-goers are reminded to practice social distancing.
Pointing out that around a third of the people carrying the virus display no symptoms, Cuomo urged New Yorkers to be get tested, wear masks in public and not rush to throw parties just because the state decided to allow gatherings of up to 10 people.
In neighboring New Jersey, also battered by Covid-19, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered some beaches and seafronts reopened and increased the number of people who can gather outside from 10 to 25.
New Jersey’s death toll increased by 96 over the previous 24 hours to 11,081, the governor said Saturday on Twitter.
Delaware – a popular destination for Washingtonians on weekend getaways – likewise opened its coastal areas, but only to residents, as visitors entering the state from elsewhere are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Officials in Los Angeles combined the reopening of parks and beaches with a measure intended to keep those spaces from being overwhelmed.
Streets in some neighborhoods of the sprawling Southern California metropolis were closed to vehicles to provide residents with places to enjoy the outdoors without having to brave large crowds. EFE